Architect and designer George Clarke has launched a petition to pressure the Government to build 100,000 new council houses every year for the next 30 years.
More than 140,000 people have signed the petition so far and Clarke is using it as a way to gauge public support on the need for more council housing.
Clarke has declared a housing crisis because of the lack of council houses and the rise in demand for them. The Right to Buy scheme has meant a reduction in homes resulting in more than one million people on the waiting list for council houses.
In an exclusive interview with kbbreview in October last year, Clarke called for more cross-party cooperation and for the formation of an organisation specifically to deal with this problem, similar to the NHS.
Clarke told kbbreview: “The three pillars of the welfare state are health, education and housing. It is that simple. Health – the NHS is bloody fantastic, and it is the envy of the world. State education, as much as we whine about that, we have a great, free education system in the UK. It works – they all have their issues, but they work. Housing doesn’t.
“So, the third pillar, and in my opinion, the most important pillar of the welfare state, has collapsed, which means that the state has to step up and allow councils and combined authorities to make previsions. The combination of the councils not building council houses anymore and Right to Buy means that there is a staggering shortage of social houses. This is why the third pillar of the welfare state has collapsed.”
He believes that a long-term strategy is vital. He said: “We have the National Health Service, but what we need is a National Home Service. Where you can get cross-party consensus for the next 20 to 30 years and a long-term strategy, where housing can be inconsistent supply, and there are a decent number of affordable homes being built. However, we don’t have that.”
Clarke was raised on a council estate in the 1970s, and he said he feels that “everyone was proud of their council-owned homes” and he wants to restore that sense of pride in council houses that he feels has been lost over the past 40 years. He also thinks this as there is so much pressure by councils to own your own home, creating a stigma on renting or council houses.
With the call for more houses, Clarke believes that the communities need to be better as well. He said in his interview: “The only way you can make that better is by changing the system, where everyone is working together instead of everyone being profit-driven. Let’s be honest; it is a numbers game.
“At the minute, it is about getting as many houses built as possible, rather than saying, ‘hang on a minute, what are we going to build that us better?’ Better houses, better communities – it’s not just about numbers, it’s about people’s lives.”